Feel free to dismiss this as the unasked-for advice of a mere keyboard tapper if you wish, but this bit of "wisdom" goes out, once again, to all the pro boxers and trainers the world over.
If you want to give yourself or your guy the best chance to win a professional boxing match, I urge you to throw more punches than your opponent. Notice I didn't say land...I said throw.
Yeah, I know, top grade, Ivy League, stop the presses type counsel. But it bears repeating...
Once again, my mantra, Be Busier, came to mind, on Saturday, when Zsolt Erdei had some decent moments in Monaco against Denis Grachev, but lost a split decision. Why? If you had to boil it down to a bitter syrup to swallow, it's this: Grachev was the busier man.
I watched the bout, which was on a card topped by Gennady Golovkin's demolition of Nobuhiro Ishida, on Wednesday morning, at the urging of Erdei's advisor, Greg Leon. The Bronx-based dealmaker called me Tuesday, asked if I'd seen the bout, and told me he thought his guy had gotten the shaft. I told him I'd watch the scrap, a ten rounder, and part of a four-man mini-tournament of super middleweights/light heavyweights.
So I did, and I got the gist of the faceoff within a few rounds. By round six or so, I'd have guessed that if the punches were tallied up, Grachev, formerly a kickboxer, threw more than twice as many punches as the 38-year-old Erdei, a Hungarian hitter entering with a 33-0 record. Round after round after round, Grachev was the first man to let his hands go when the bell rang to begin a round, and time again, he'd set and fire, re-set and fire, re-set and fire multiple times before Erdei would let his hands go once. Did Erdei slip and block a boatload of those launches? Sure. But without the benefit of super-slo mo, I couldn't tell you what percentage landed. Thus, I had to guesstimate, same as those three judges did in Monaco. And I'd rather be the guy throwing more than the guy throwing less, especially if maybe two or three clean, hard, showy shots are landing each round.
In the first, Erdei conceivably could have won with defense, slipping and ducking, but the Russian Grachev might have thrown more, and might have won that way. In the second, Grachev (12-1 entering; age 30) threw a stiff counter right, hurled several power shots through first two thirds of round, and was just plain busier. Grachev won with volume in the third, by coming forward, not being screamingly effective but by just being the busier man. Sometimes he missed badly but was pushing the fight forward, sending the message to the judges: I want this more than the other guy, do the right thing, reward me.
The fourth looked perhaps even, but Grachev was the busier in the first two thirds, while Erdei landed a few power punches in the last third. He showed the quicker hands, and had an accuracy edge, but just needed to throw more.
In round five, Grachev was busier, same as in the other rounds. Erdei was looking like he was in sparring mode most of the round. The sixth looked even or maybe Grachev got the nod. Grachev started the round off by throwing first. Erdei scored several cute, quick counters, especially left hooks, but the volume edge went to Grachev.
In the seventh, Grachev was a bit more aggressive, and nothing showy was landed by either man, but Grachev won by tossing more. In the eighth, Erdei was too often throwing a single shot. He'd throw an orphan jab. His right cross might have been the single best shot of the round; that happened a few times, Erdei landing the best power shot of the round, which likely helped him immensely on the cards.
In the ninth, it was Grachev with the steady pressure, nothing showy but busier. In the tenth, Erdei was busier in the first half of the round, but then drifted again. He might have landed the two best power shots of round but, yep, broken record time, he wasn't as busy.
After watching, I felt kind of bad, but I'd told Leon I'd give him straight talk after I watched. On Wednesday early afternoon, I called him, and told him I thought his guy hadn't been shafted. To the contrary, I thought the judges were quite kind to Erdei. Phil Verbeke gave Erdei the nod, 96-94, while Stanley Christodoulou and Terry O'Connor scored it 96-94 for Grachev.
I noted that it is quite likely that in person, up close, the power of Erdei made more of an impression than it did on video, so I wasn't going to label my near shutout for Grachev the last word on this faceoff. But back to my main point...in every damned round, Grachev threw more than Erdei. That might have something to do with the fact that Erdei had last fought in June 2011 and had been rehabbing a few injuries. And my guess about the volume looked solid; it turns out CompuBox tallied the bout, and their numbers were posted on Boxing Scene. Grachev went 147-828, to 146-427 for the loser. Right, Grachev threw 401 more punches than Erdei. Maybe our friends at CompuBox could satisfy my curiosity, and crunch the numbers, and tell us how often the guy who threw more won the bout. My guess is a heavy majority of the time.
Leon was quite gracious as he listened to my take, and talked about what he'd like to see next for Erdei. He'd love to have his guy go back to Monaco, for the tournament final card, on July 13. Grachev will fight Edwin Rodriguez, who beat Ezequiel Maderna (UD10) to reach the climax fight. Erdei could fight Maderna, and if he wins, Leon says, he could do a rematch with Grachev, or face Rodriguez if he beats Grachev.
So, was Erdei rusty? "Oh yeah, I think he lost form after round six but I thought he won it with the tenth round," Leon said of Erdei. He hurt his jab hand in round six, Leon said, but he had his guy a 96-94 winner.
In other news, Leon said that Jean Pascal is meshing nicely with Angel Heredia, the trainer-supplement advisor who has done wonders with Juan Manuel Marquez. Leon advises Pascal, the Montrealer who fights Lucian Bute on May 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
"They've sold over 15,000 tickets already," he said. "Jean is in Vegas with Angel training and he'll be sparring in a couple weeks. He's confident he's ready for Bute.
It's the biggest fight of his life, the winner is the clear cut superstar in Canada." There is a rematch clause, Leon said, and a WBC diamond belt will be up for grabs.
And so has Heredia whipped up some stellar supplements for Pascal, to help his stamina or strength? "I haven't talked with Pascal about specifics," Leon said. He will learn more about the training regimen in a few weeks, he said.
Another client, vet Allan Green (32-4), will be on that Bell Centre card, taking on 12-0 Eleider Alvarez, a Colombian banger who makes Montreal home.
Another in the Leon stable is Joachim Alcine (33-3-1), who takes on a new Eddie Hearn signing, Brian Rose (22-1) on April 20. Alcine wants to rebound off a K01 loss to Matt Macklin on Sept. 15.
Would you pay to see Manny Pacquiao vs Saul Alvarez?